North Charleston’s cost for turning the Danny Jones Pool into a heated, year-round facility has now doubled to nearly $1.5 million.
City officials aren’t happy about the cost over-run but say the project is still worth the expense.
In any case, renovations to the pool complex began last year and were already well under way, with a new tent-like roof having been installed over the pool at the recreation complex near Park Circle. The additional costs are related to areas around the pool, such as plumbing underneath the concrete pool deck.
Efforts to turn the 1950s-era pool into a year-round swimming facility were prompted by Boeing executive and former world-ranked swimmer Marco Cavazzoni, who led a private fundraising effort that came up with $250,000 for the project. The town of Mount Pleasant chipped in $100,000, and Charleston pledged help as well.
North Charleston agreed to pay $750,000 toward the project, but City Council members have been told that now the city will need to come up with $743,463 more.
“We thought it was just putting a roof over (the pool) and heating it,” said Mayor Keith Summey.
But as Summey’s assistant Ray Anderson told council members, unexpected problems turned up involving the concrete decking, drainage lines, and the pool house.
“It was just the kind of thing that kept going and going once you started digging into it,” Anderson said during a Finance Committee meeting Thursday night.
The council was also told Cavazzoni would help with additional fundraising efforts.
In an email to The Post and Courier, Cavazzoni said he and others working on the effort hope to eventually raise $500,000 toward the project costs.
“The project will address child obesity and diabetes, as well as the greater purpose of preventing drowning-related deaths of our Lowcountry children, particularly in underprivileged communities, through ‘learn to swim’ programs in conjunction with North Charleston and Charleston schools,” he said.
Councilman Todd Olds said it seems that the project should have gotten more scrutiny during the planning stages, but the council agreed to pay for the cost over-run with money from the city’s fund balance.
“Danny Jones (Pool) was always there, when I was growing up on the Navy base,” Councilwoman Rhonda Jerome said. “Whatever it takes, we need to finish it.”
Some of the additional money will go to Stenstrom & Associates, of Goose Creek, which was the low bidder for the work to renovate the pool locker rooms at a cost of $239,463.
Several council members, and Summey, joined Jerome in recalling the history of the pool and its importance to the city.
“It was the only swimming pool there was,” Jerome said.
“I remember when it opened,” said Councilman Ron Brinson.
The pool opened in 1955 and was among a number of facilities operated by the Cooper River Parks and Playgrounds Commission. In 1999 the commission essentially turned those facilities over to the city, because the city had grown to cover most of the areas once served by the commission. Summey said the city leases the pool from the commission for $1 a year but will eventually own it outright. He estimated that building a pool complex comparable to the renovated Danny Jones Pool would cost $7 million or more.